Emotional return for bronze medal gymnast Amy Tinkler, 16


Gymnast Amy Tinkler wept and hugged friends and coaches as she had an emotional return to her club with her bronze-medal prize around her neck.

The dedicated 16-year-old, who will find out her GCSE results on Thursday, has vowed to go at least one better at the Tokyo Games in 2020 and is already thinking about perfecting her next routine.

Team GB's youngest athlete at the Rio games was cheered and clapped when she walked in to the "pink gym" home of South Durham Gymnastics Club in Spennymoor and let young members try on her medal.

There were tears all round as she entered to a guard of honour, embraced coaches and volunteers, and was mobbed by young gymnasts who have been training hard to follow in her footsteps.

Tinkler has already had to get used to being recognised, both at the Olympic village by stars like Greg Rutherford and Tom Daley, and by members of the public when she stopped at a service station on the way home to Bishop Auckland from Heathrow on Tuesday.

The teenager sat with the victorious women's hockey team on the flight home after getting an upgrade.

She said: "They were just so excited, understandably, they had an incredible games. It was pretty loud.

"It was like a huge party on there. It definitely made the flight a lot better."

She has watched her 90-second floor routine back and said: "I was so happy I was able to pull it off at the most important time.

"Watching it back it was just how I remembered it, it was incredible."

She has attended the club since she was two, has trained for 31 hours a week on top of her studies and missed out on her school prom and other celebrations to achieve her dream.

"It has started to sink in now, being on the flight with all those athletes, I have worked so hard for this and all that hard work has paid off now."

She will take two weeks off to deal with the excitement of coming home and to unwind before restarting training to prepare for a big competition after Christmas.

"This medal has inspired me to get back in the gym and work hard," she said.

"Sharing the podium with Simone Biles and Aly Raisman was amazing, and hopefully I would love to come back to Tokyo and be in one of the spots in first or second."

Coach Nicola Preston was full of emotion having missed her student, whom she calls part of her family.

She said: "I thought I couldn't cry any more tears. It is pretty special to have her back.

"It's great for gymnastics and it's great for the girls around me because they work so hard. It gives them inspiration and says it's okay to dream."

Friend Dena Kirk, 15, from Quarrington Hill, said: "Amy is really down to earth.

"She's just amazing, she's so passionate about her gymnastics, she's puts everything into it, she's so dedicated."

Mia Scott, 13, from Shildon, added: "She inspires us all and we are all motivated to work hard."